Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Professional Learning Communities and Student Achievement in Pennsylvania High Schools
by Varano, Samuel A., Jr., Ed.D., Lehigh University, 2010, 106; 3439761
Abstract (Summary)

The fundamental purpose of schools shifted during the latter part of the 20th century due to globalization, technology, the Internet, popular culture, and most significantly due to the increased accountability for student achievement with the enactment of No Child Left Behind (2001). Prominent education theorists viewed creating professional learning communities (PLCs) in schools as a viable systemic response to the new challenges. Using Marsick and Watkins' (1993; 1996) three-level PLC, seven dimension model and its accompanying instrument, the Dimensions of the Learning Organization Questionnaire (DLOQ), this study did not find a statistically significant relationship between the overall implementation of PLCs in Pennsylvania public highs schools and student achievement in reading and mathematics as measured by schools' Grade 11 PSSA mean scaled scores. However, there were statistically significant relationships between two individual PLC dimensions and reading and mathematics achievement. Marsick and Watkins' Dimension 1 (Create Continuous Learning Opportunities) had a statistically significant positive relationship with reading and mathematics achievement, while Dimension 5 (Empower People Toward a Collective Vision) had a statistically significant negative relationship with reading and mathematics achievement.

The DLOQ was sent to all public high school principals in Pennsylvania except the School District of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Public Schools ( n = 512) and 115 principals completed the survey. Practitioners should be cautioned about implementing the PLC concept without data demonstrating its efficacy. However, the results were consistent with the literature about reform efforts in schools yielding some positive results when efforts were focused on daily instruction. Therefore, future research should collect longitudinal student achievement data and explore in greater depth and from more stakeholders, perspectives the strategies schools use to implement the PLC dimensions.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: White, George P.
Commitee: Beachum, Floyd D., Dietrich, Curtis R., Yoshida, Roland K.
School: Lehigh University
Department: Educational Leadership
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 72/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: School administration
Keywords: Achievement, Learning organization, Pennsylvania, Professional learning communities, Student achievement
Publication Number: 3439761
ISBN: 9781124454795
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